Consumers in West Coast States Can Get Free Credit Reports Starting December 1, 2004

Beginning December 1, 2004, consumers living in the western U.S. will have the right to order a free copy of their credit report thanks to a new federal law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACTA, adopted by Congress in 2003. Consumers elsewhere in the nation will get the same right over the next year as the law is phased in across the country. By requiring credit reporting bureaus to provide free credit reports annually upon request, the new law enables consumers to more readily monitor if they are victims of identity theft or if their credit reports contain errors.

Federal Trade Commission Releases Web Site and Phone Number for Free Credit Reports

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released information about the phone number, web site and mail-in form that consumers can use to order their free annual credit reports. Free annual credit reports will be rolled out starting on the West Coast beginning December 1, 2004, and ending in September 2005 on the East Coast.

The ChoicePoint Data Security Breach (Feb. '05): What It Means for You

Data aggregators compile in-depth dossiers of personal information on almost everyone, even though many have never heard of them, have never had an account with them, nor have given them permission to obtain personal information. Until recently, many Americans had never heard of ChoicePoint, one of the largest data aggregators. But with recent information coming to light that identity thieves opened 50 accounts to access ChoicePoint’s databases of personal information, many people are just realizing that companies like ChoicePoint exist.

Poll: 91% Voter Support For Financial Privacy Initiative

A public opinion poll commissioned by the Consumer Federation of California Education Foundation found overwhelming voter support for a ballot initiative to protect the privacy of consumer financial information. After hearing a battery of arguments against the initiative, voter support stood at 91 per cent. The poll found no significant difference in support by party affiliation or income level.

It's Back-to-School Time: Parents, Do You Know Where Your Child's School Records Are?

The PRC advises parents to pay close attention to documents and forms that students bring home from school. Among them is likely to be an opt-out form regarding the disclosure of students' education records. But if the parent does not sign the form instructing the school to NOT disclose the student's personal information to others, the school is free to release "directoy information." Directory information is NOT a small category. It can include the student's name, address, phone number, and date of birth, as well as major field of study, activities and sports, weight and height if on athletic teams, dates of attendance, and degrees and awards.

Planning a Summer Vacation? Be a Privacy-Smart Traveler

Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity. Don’t be a vacationer who presents a crook with that opportunity. Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the fraudster’s target. A few minutes spent planning before you travel can help reduce the risk that a fraudster will ruin your vacation. Read this alert for tips to help you avoid any nasty surprises.

Spring Cleaning Your Personal and Financial Records

Now that tax season is over, many people are wondering which personal and financial records they need to save for tax and other purposes. Some of us are packrats and like to save everything forever. Others can't wait to discard unwanted papers.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard a record? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide what records you need to keep and for how long.

Specialty Reports: What Have They Got on Me?

Most consumers know of their right to free annual credit reports from the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). But did you know that the same federal law that lets you see your credit reports entitles you to much more?he Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to free copies of numerous so-called specialty consumer reports. These specialty reports provide information on such matters as your medical conditions, insurance claims, check writing history, rental history, and employment history.

Protecting Your Social Security Number at Tax Time

Identity thieves want your Social Security number (SSN) so they can assume your identity and commit fraud. Around tax time, protecting your SSN takes on even greater importance. The Information Returns that you receive (Forms W-2 and 1099) as well as your IRS income tax return (Form 1040) will all contain your SSN. Each of these forms, if not handled properly, presents an opportunity for your SSN to be used fraudulently.

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